Ilya Gringolts / Peter Laul

Schumann: Violin Sonatas 1-3

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Although he waited until late in his career to turn to the genre, when Robert Schumann set his mind to compose sonatas for violin, he did so with an incredible flourish of activity. 1851 saw the composition of the Opp. 105 and 121 sonatas (the former being completed in barely a week). Both are models of chamber music collaboration, not virtuosic show pieces for either performer. Rather, Schumann's focus is on delicate melodies, serene interplay between violin and piano, and masterful elaboration of musical gestures. The third sonata is Schumann's completion of the so-called "FAE Sonata," a collaboration with Brahms and Albert Dietrich. This final sonata, only published in 1956, lacks the same cohesiveness and introspection that distinguish the first two sonatas. Still, it offers insight into the flights of musical fancy that characterized Schumann's declining mental health. Performing these three sonatas are violinist Ilya Gringolts and pianist Peter Laul. Gringolts has proven himself to be a master technician many times before, but here -- as in his Bach recordings -- sensitivity of interpretation is what really draws listeners in here. The seamless interplay he achieves with Laul produces a true sense of dialogue rather than competition. Well-balanced, technically polished, and musically enriching, this album is ideal for those looking for a complete set of these sonatas.

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